Year of Beauty From Ashes
...the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you. Deuteronomy 23:5-6
Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.Proverbs 13:12 (MSG)
A Turn Around Year!
Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.Proverbs 13:12 (MSG)
A Turn Around Year!
As I fasted and prayed the first week of the year, I really felt the Lord say, "This will be a turn-around year for My people. Breakthroughs, miracles, advancement, prosperity, opportunities, will all come into fruition as people shake off the difficulties and discouragement of the past years and arise in faith to see the promises of God come alive even in the midst of an adverse spiritual climate in the earth. I am turning that which has been sent against you for evil to begin to work for your good."
There is no doubt that the last several years have been times of great challenge for individuals, for the Church, and for nations – especially America. We are living in times of great shaking, which will produce great reformation for the Kingdom of God. I have often reminded our congregation that there is no victory without a battle, and that in order to be an overcomer one must first have something to overcome.
This will be a year of tremendous turn-around for those who are aligning themselves to the purposes of God and who are obeying His voice.
It is a year where God will give us beauty for our ashes, the oil of joy for our grief and mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (see Isaiah 61:3).
This will be a time when those spiritual forces and circumstances, which have tried to rise against us to bring us under a curse, will instead be turned to a blessing for us.
I call Heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days... Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Vision of the Piñata
On the last Sunday of 2012, during a worship service at Vision Church, I saw a vision of a heavenly piñata being broken open and spilling out the blessings from on high. Having attended our grandsons' birthday parties a few weeks earlier where a piñata was broken open, I understood the significance of what I was seeing.
At a party, a piñata is suspended on a string and pulled up and down while a blindfolded guest takes a stick of some sort and tries to hit it hard enough to break it open. The person operating the string will often pull the piñata up and down to avoid it being hit. Eventually, several partygoers, though blindfolded, connect enough times and the piñata bursts open, spilling candy and small toys on the ground, precipitating a scramble of the children to gather up the spoils.
I felt the Lord say this: "The enemy has tried his best to discourage My people by constantly pulling blessings from within their reach, making them feel their warfare and spiritual disciplines are futile to obtain the promised blessings. But," the Lord says, "I am taking the blindfolds off My people in this next season and they will hit the mark and release the blessings from Heaven. I have put weapons in their hands that will break things open: praise, prayer, obedience, decreeing My Word...all these things that will cause that which has seemed out of reach to now rain down in abundance upon My people. This will be a time of gathering up the spoils for those who are positioned. These are spoils of miracles and blessings as well as an outpouring unlike earth has ever seen before."
I believe this year will be a year of outpouring and blessings as God's Word acts like a hammer that breaks the rock into pieces (see Jeremiah 23:29).
This will be a year of great contrast and distinction between the righteous and unrighteous. We are certainly living in times when we are seeing this contrast played out all around us in the earth. We are in a time when darkness will get much darker, and light will get brighter in contrast. We will see more instability governmentally, economically, and socially, but at the same time we will see the people of God arise in great glory, strength, wisdom, and power. I really felt God say things will get worse in this nation and in the nations, but that He certainly isn't done contending over America and neither should we be.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1-3
1. Turning Robbery Into Recovery
The first mention of the number thirteen in Scripture speaks of a rebellion which occurred. In Genesis 14:4, we are told in the 13th year of the reign of Chedorlaomer, an idolatrous pagan king who was oppressing the people of the region, the kings under his wicked rulership said, "Enough is enough." They rose up against Chedorlaomer, but because of his superior military strength he crushed their rebellion, emptying their lands of the spoils of war, punishing them for trying to be free. One taken captive was Abraham's nephew Lot and his house. Abraham mobilized 318 trained, skilled men of his household and this small band of mighty men overthrew the empire of Chedorlaomer and took back all that was stolen, and then some!
The enemy has tried to bring people into captivity, and often in the process of appropriating our freedom that Jesus gave His life for, we find the enemy rising up against us with even greater power than before, trying to keep us captive. This is a year for us to rise up as mighty men, to break out of the oppression and captivity of the enemy, declare "enough is enough," and to take back all that has been stolen in this last season.
In the fall of 2012, I saw a vision of a boxing ring with two evil opponents dancing around looking for someone to contend with. One was named The Destroyer, the other was named The Devourer. But no one was opposing them. Then I understood why. I saw on the back of each of their robes the words "This Is Just Life." People believed that all the robbery and difficulty they were encountering was "just life" rather than fighting to take back what was being stolen. It might be wise to inventory what the enemy has robbed from each of us in this past season, then contend and demand a double payment in return. Exodus 22:7 says a thief, when he is caught, must pay back double. It's time to contend!
2. Turning Barrenness Into Blossoming
As I set my heart to hear what God is saying to His Church as we began the year of 2013, I had several visions which all had a theme of dry, desolate, desperate situations turning around. I saw a desert that was hot and dry begin to receive great amounts of rain from heaven. As the dry ground received the rain, seeds which had been lying dormant for years suddenly began to spring forth and bloom. Where there was previously no point in sowing in that desolate land, the rain transformed it to become a place of great fruitfulness and blessing. This brought to mind Isaiah 35, which speaks of the desert blossoming, the dry land becoming a pool and springs of water, blind eyes being opened, deaf ears being unstopped, the lame walking, and the redeemed of the Lord singing and rejoicing at the transformation taking place all around them. What caused this turn-around? The outpouring of rain from Heaven!
In 1910, in the Pentecostal outpouring at Azusa Street, William Seymour prophesied that in 100 years there would be a release of God's Shekinah Glory that would be more powerful and farther reaching than what occurred at Azusa Street. In 1913, in the Stone Church Revival in Chicago, Maria Woodworth-Etter echoed this prophetic word when she declared, "We are not yet up to the fullness of the Former Rain and that when the Latter Rain comes, it will far exceed anything we have seen!" It is now that time, and these dormant prophetic promises are coming alive to produce unprecedented harvest for the Kingdom of God.
The Word dormant means that which has been asleep or inactive. God wants to bring an awakening to His Church as never before! He also wants to awaken gifts and callings within each of us that have been lying dormant. He is waking up prophetic promises which have thus far been inactive. It is a year to see things blossom and come to pass. It is a year of fulfilled promises!
Genesis 17 tells us of the circumcision of Ishmael at the age of 13. But there is a far greater story here that speaks of a time of fulfillment of promise. When Ishmael was born, Abraham was 86 years old. At age 99, God came to Abraham again, 13 years later, to let him know that Ishmael was not the fulfillment of the promise. But even though Abraham was willing to settle for a substitute fulfillment, the God of covenant would fulfill His Word His Way. This was the time God revealed Himself as the God of Covenant to Abraham and instituted the sign of the covenant, which was circumcision. That was the year God supernaturally broke the spirit of barrenness off Sarah's womb, and Isaac (laughter) came forth a year later when Abraham was 100 years old.
Joseph received promises from God in two dreams. As powerful as this revelation was, Joseph spent the next 13 years living the exact opposite of what he had been promised...betrayal, slavery, false accusation, abandonment, imprisonment... But because Joseph positioned his heart to believe God and to continue to stand on His promises, after 13 years of seeming failure, God used every bit of suffering he endured to catapult him into fulfillment.
This is a time when God is honoring prophetic promises He has made to us, which we may not even be contending for anymore. Either we have forgotten these precious promises or, perhaps, we had a form of fulfillment that was less than what God intended and we have settled for less than the best. God wants to fulfill His whole promise to us and break the spirit of barrenness off our lives so we can produce all God has called us to walk in.
3. A Year To Turn Frustration Into Finishing
The Church is currently in a season of contending against the Prince of Persia. This was the ruling spirit in place during the return from exile from Babylonian captivity (see Daniel 10). It was also the spirit in place over the land of Israel during the reformation/restoration/rebuilding of all that had been destroyed during those 70 years away. It was a spirit that brought hindrance, delay, and frustration in the midst of the reformation period. The Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Daniel were written during this civil government rule. Ezra deals with the rebuilding of the temple (the Church), while Nehemiah deals with the rebuilding of the city.
When you study the Book of Ezra, you see the process of what happens after Cyrus comes into power. He released a decree which freed the captives, released wealth and weapons, and authorized the Jews to return and build. But I also clearly saw that two other kings came along to try to undo all Cyrus accomplished. This threw the rebuilding into 16 years of delay. These two kings actually wrote counter-decrees that negated the decrees of Cyrus. The first king was Ahasuerus, whose name means "I will keep you poor and silent," and the second was Artaxerxes, whose name means "Restrainer and Maintainer." Both of these forces have been at work to hinder the reformation momentum and keep people self-focused and discouraged.
Ezra 4:4-5 says, "Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia."
What broke the spirit of delay and hindrance? What bound the Prince of Persia from withholding resources? The prophets began to prophesy! When they did, the people were mobilized, they shook off the discouragement of the last season, and the power of Cyrus's decree trumpeted what the other decrees proclaimed. We must understand that when God issues a decree, the enemy always issues a counter-decree to hinder and delay.We must decree what God has said, then we will see an even greater miracle! In Ezra, the subsequent kings added strength to Cyrus's decree. They added greater wealth transfer, greater authority in the land, and an acceleration of completion.
Ezra 6:14 So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
When the people heard the voice of the prophets and were mobilized, they went from fatalism and frustration to finishing!
One other significant example of this finishing anointing is seen in the fact that it took Solomon 13 long years to finish his palace. After this point he entered a season of rapidly building a number of other structures. I believe this signifies that as we press through to see certain things finished in this year, it will result in a shifting of gears into a season of acceleration for God's reformation process.
4. A Year To Turn Around From Battling To Survive To Battling To Possess & A Year For Victory Against Incredible Odds
We all know that Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until an unbelieving generation died off. For 40 years Joshua and Caleb battled to survive. But at an appointed time they were to come out of a survival, maintaining mode and shift into battling, possessing, and advancing.
Joshua was the appointed leader of this possessing campaign. He led the nation in supernatural victories against the enemies in Canaan. His victories began by defeating Jericho by the strategies of the Lord. To do this he had to actually pick a fight with an enemy that seemed impossible to overcome. But God gave him strategies for victory against impossible odds. This strategy involved marching around Jericho once a day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day, blowing the trumpets. On the seventh time around, on the seventh day, this was actually the 13th time they encompassed the city. On this 13th time around they blew the trumpets and shouted and the mighty walls of Jericho fell down flat!
This was the first of many great victories in the conquest of Canaan. This was completely impossible in the natural, but when Joshua and the armies of Israel fulfilled their obedience, God was standing ready to avenge them of their enemies. Walls of impossibility fell down flat! This signaled a new era of possessing the gates of their enemies.
We are now in the same season, but it will require us to shift out of a survival mentality into a mentality of overthrowing and possessing. We will see this application in the spiritual realm first...then we will see it manifested in overthrowing mindsets, philosophies, world views and unrighteous systems.
In the Book of Esther, during a season of reformation in Israel, Esther had been chosen to be queen within the ruling Persian empire. God positioned her, not just for personal favor, but for preservation, legislation, and retaliation against the enemy. In the story, Haman manipulated the king to sign a decree for the extermination of the hated Jews. This slaughter was to take place on the 13th day of the month of Adar. But when the king heard Esther's plea regarding her people, the king instructed her to write a new decree in the king's name and seal it with his signet ring.
So Esther and Mordecai did not just nullify the attack of the enemy but rather wrote a new decree authorizing the Jews to rise up and destroy those who would have tried to destroy them. On that day, Haman's ten sons were killed and 75,000 that tried to kill the Jews were instead destroyed themselves. This ushered in a new time of favor in the land, even under Persian rule. This also marked a new feast day for the people of God....Purim. This was a time they celebrated.
...as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor. Esther 9:22
This year we need to be so filled with faith that the enemy will be forced to back off his strategies of destruction, knowing that his curses are being turned back on his own head. It is a year of turn around and gaining ground for God's Kingdom sake.
5. A Year To Turn Famine Into Fruitfulness
Interestingly, there are 13 famines mentioned in Scripture. This will be a year when God will supernaturally give strategies to His people as to how they are to respond to famine. We are in a season of spiritual famine but also a time when many are experiencing economic famine as well. Abraham and the widow of Zarephath were both strategically repositioned during a time of famine without losing out on their inheritance. The widow of Zarephath and Isaac both sowed strategic seeds in times of famine that released a supernatural harvest for their land and their house.
Isaac sowed in the land in the time of famine and reaped a hundredfold in the same year. The man began to prosper, he continued prospering until he became very prosperous...and the Philistines envied him. Genesis 26:12-14
A Year of Double Fruitfulness – The Joseph Factor
Do you realize there were actually 13 tribes in Israel? There were the original 12 sons of Jacob, one of which was Joseph who was carried away into Egyptian captivity. Joseph, whose name means "increase," actually prospered, and caused Egypt to prosper in the time of famine. During this time, as the right hand man to the Pharaoh of Egypt, Joseph married an Egyptian woman and bore two sons while in Egypt. Egypt is a symbol of the world. These children, birthed at what was a seemingly inopportune time in captivity in the world, became his double portion of his father's inheritance. After being restored to his family, Jacob adopted Joseph's sons as his own and instead of giving Joseph his single inheritance, he gave each of his sons an inheritance, resulting in a double portion for Joseph.
The first son was Manasseh, whose name means "God has made me forget all my trouble and all of my father's household." Ephraim...who would be considered the 13th born to the lineage of Jacob...his name means "Double fruitfulness" because Joseph said, "God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction." When Jacob was asked to lay hands on Manasseh and Ephraim, Joseph positioned his hands so that his right hand of blessing would rest on Manasseh as the older of the two, but Jacob crossed his arms over and gave the firstborn blessing, which is a double portion, to Ephraim.
For 13 years Joseph suffered, but at the end of that time he was promoted and stepped into the blessings of the Lord. This is a year to forget your troubles from the last season and embrace the fact that God can cause you to be fruitful even in the land of affliction.
It is time for the Double Portion blessing of fruitfulness on our lives. As we choose the life of God's Spirit we will see every curse turned to a blessing; and all that the enemy meant for our evil, God will see to it that it produces that which is good! Happy 2013!